How to Survive NaNoWriMo

by , Monday November 2, 2015
How to Survive NaNoWriMo


A seasoned NaNoWriMo veteran tells us how to make it through the month of November


Hey! @Molly Looby here, NaNoWriMo survivor and – dare I say – extraordinaire?


I’ve taken part in NaNo four times so far but more importantly, I’ve won four times. Now, I can’t tell you how to win – that’s down to you – but I can help you survive and have a fantastic November.


First of all: put your butt in that chair and write.

I know this sounds stupid but this is basic NaNo etiquette. It doesn’t matter if your words are full of typos. It doesn’t matter if they’re not in order. It doesn’t even matter if the story isn’t working or isn’t making sense.


Just. Write. The. Words.


I know this is hard, especially if you’re plagued by your inner editor, but this is how to survive. If you sit in the chair and turn off your internet connection, at some point you will start writing. What takes down most Wrimos? Falling behind. Whatever is happening, you must do your words. Think of it as life homework that’s due in tomorrow. (This is not an excuse not to do your actual homework!)

Putting yourself in that chair and forcing the words out, even if it’s painful, is a must I’m afraid.


Survival step two: have fun. 

Get excited! I’m being serious. I have so much fun during NaNo and it’s the main reason I do it. It’s great to do something this crazy once a year. It reminds you that you’re human and there are thousands of people out there as crazy and passionate as you are. Write through laughter. Write through tears. Write through caffeine buzzes and fatigue. NaNoWriMo is all about the fun. You’ll get pep talks and emails throughout the month spurring you on and making you laugh and giving you the encouragement you need to do step one: put butt in chair.


If you make it fun, you’ll keep coming back day after day and that’s half the battle.


My third tip is to live and breathe your story.

Now, don’t laugh, but I do some weird stuff when I’m in the middle of a novel. I like to pretend I am my protagonist. No laughing! It honestly is a lifesaver. Whenever you’re not writing it’s great to do this. If you’re waiting for a bus, think about what your protagonist would do while waiting for a bus. Would they chat to the people around them? Would they disappear under a hood and pretend they were somewhere else? This allows you to truly know your protagonist inside and out and once you know that, the whole writing thing is so much easier. And sometimes plot points wander into your head while you’re doing this too because what if something dramatic happened while they were waiting for a bus?


If you live and breathe your story, you’ll feel the need to get the words out no matter what.


My last tip is a sort of extra. It’s something I discovered last year that helped me complete NaNo in record time. (This and a particularly intense word war situation). I covered up my word count. I know, that sounds too easy, right? But honestly, it’s incredible. I would just sit and write and write and write. By the end of the day/writing session, I’d always written way more than I would with my total uncovered. I realised last year that I had become obsessed with my word count and exhausted as soon as I reached my target for the day. By covering up my word count, I wrote so much more because I was terrified of not reaching my target. It is the most satisfying thing to rip off the post-it-note and discover that you’ve written over 4,000 words! Honestly, I felt like I had a superpower.


To me, these steps are all you really need. Character outlines or no character outlines. Plot ideas or no plot ideas. As long as you put your butt in the chair, have fun, and live and breathe your story, you’re in for a great chance of lasting till day 30.


It’s not all about winning, it’s about battling the NaNo demons until you pass out and achieving what you never thought you could.


See you at the finish line, I’ll be the one cheering and hugging everyone.


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